A New Era of Startups

It’s hard not to notice this new wave of entrepreneurial spirit, and it seems that the golden age of startups could be upon us; everyone and their dog is trying to launch a business. Whether it’s a resurgence after the latest recession, or a new workforce compiled of self-entitled Generation-Y (aka Millennials), there’s definitely been a shift in the ‘job work’ mentality.

MILLENNIALS

It’s no secret that Gen-Y (a category I fall into myself) can often get a bad rap, and there are some recurring opinions as to why they can be seen in such a light. Five common themes discussed in this article from Elite Daily are as follows;

  • They were raised to think they’re all special and unique
  • They went to college, so they think they automatically deserve a job
  • They’re narcissistic
  • They get depressed and stressed very easily
  • They think they deserve more than they actually do

Whether Millennials are the cause of this rise in the entrepreneurial rate, or whether it is a general move away from the traditional corporate ladder climbing mind-set – it appears that individual’s happiness and work satisfaction now comes from ‘making the world a better place’, and the dreamy idea of being your own boss.

But it may also be a change that has come out of necessity – in a recent article stating the hard economic facts of the matter, (debunking many of the myths surrounding Gen-Y, including those above) it appears that the ’30-year economic betrayal is dragging down the Generation Y’s income’ and prospects.

Perhaps leaving many with the feeling that they must take matters into their own hands, as a desperate attempt to take control. Millennials were born directly into a new era of technology, and the social media movement – allowing many to become marketeers.

An example close to home; we work above the very popular Bond Street Coffee in Brighton, frequented by many of the Matchbox coffee connoisseurs and a constantly busy location in the North Laines. Chris, who is under 30, opened the coffee shop 18 months ago – and has since opened two more. With a great atmosphere, and many delicious brews, it also has an active social presence – helping to promote and market the business.

STARTUPS

Startups and crowdfunding almost go hand in hand these days, thanks to the way Kickstarter has revolutionised the startup industry. It caused me to wonder why Kickstarter became such a success; many others have tried and failed before them, and it is by no means a new concept.

In fact, while researching I discovered that the idea of crowdfunding goes back as far as the 18th century; and most likely even precedes that. In 1713, Alexander Pope translated The Iliad from Greek to English (which took close to six years) and he had a group of around 750 people who subscribed to the work – which essentially micro-funded the publication. As an offer to all those who subscribed, they had their names inscribed in the first edition.

There have been many examples throughout time, another notable case was the making of the Statue of Liberty pedestal which was funded by more than 100,000 individuals – all receiving small rewards for backing the project.

 

So what makes Kickstarter a company with a net worth close to $1 billion? Perhaps a mix of the right model, at the right time. The web makes this model hugely accessible, with a worldwide reach that allows for greater participation from interested parties.

One of Kickstarter’s success stories shows that entrepreneurship may be here to stay; My First Startup is an educational comic book aimed at kids. The idea is to help parents teach their children an alternative to the 9-5 career, and to give their budding entrepreneurs easy-to-understand material without being overwhelming or patronizing.  

There’s not always an easy way of sensing what will become a successful startup, in a recent article by Forbes they released that 90% of all startups fail. So how can you fall within that 10%?  

Here are a selection of varied, and some of the most successful, Kickstarter campaigns;

  • Pebble Time – Funded on March 27th 2015, it reached 4067% of its intended goal, raising $1 million in less than an hour. One of their previous campaigns in May 2012 raised 10,266% of its goal, and sold close to half a million watches in their first year.
  • Exploding Kittens – Funded on February 19th 2015, it reached 87, 825% of its intended goal and became Kickstarter’s most backed campaign with 219, 382 backers.
  • The Veronica Mars Movie Project – Funded on April 12th 2013, it reached 285% of its intended goal, and became the all-time highest-funded project in FILM category. Turning this cult-TV series ‘little movie’, into a big movie and showing directors and actors just what is possible, with the entire film funded by the fans.
  • Reading Rainbow – Funded on July 2nd 2014, it reached 540% of its intended goal. The aim – to revive the beloved TV show Reading Rainbows, with the catchy theme tune that starts off by one upping butterflies; and bring it back into living rooms and classrooms.

These are just a small selection, and it is clear to see that they differ widely from one another. It is hard to tell what will interest members of the public enough to jump on board and donate; be that kittens, explosions, and laser beams, or TV shows that were once cancelled and taken off air.

There are several ways to go about launching a startup, with many opportunities for small business and bank loans, or multiple/angel investors, but I think part of the success of Kickstarter is having the public back you. The knowledge that it’s not just a few people who believe the business could work by giving you a high interest loan, but the potential to have hundreds or thousands of strangers tell you that you’ve got a good idea – something worth supporting. That can be a huge boost and driving force for any business, especially a young and insecure startup.

CROWDFUNDING WINS

Last year I attended a work event which included a 46 (precise) minute talk from Mr Bingo, most notably recognised for his Hate Mail project in which he sends offensively illustrated postcards to willing recipients. The talk was part of a reward for the backing donation our company made to his Kickstarter campaign, Hate Mail: The Definitive Collection; in which Mr Bingo created a book, showcasing a selection of his favourite postcards. The presentation was mildly erratic, offensive, funny, and informative (teaching us all how to write and make a rap video); all in all a delightful 46 minutes. This was  just another example of the great opportunities that are out there, not only for the individuals looking to crowdfund a business idea, but also for anyone willing to back it. It went on to become the most funded UK publishing project on Kickstarter, and reached its goal in 9 hours. Mr. Bingo’s words of thanks further proved the point of how important it can be to have a supportive crowd behind you on your ventures. 

Sometimes crowdfunding is thrust upon you, as with Falco after their second Future of the Left album was leaked online in late April, 2009, just 2 months before its official release. They made no money, and were on the brink of splitting up, despite being at their creative peak. Being one of our CEO’s favourite bands, he filled me in on the case;

“Having being brought to their knees by the internet they turned the tables and have used a crowdfunding platform to fund their last 2 records.
They can now sustainably pursue their passion without having to depend on a massive corporate middle man who is going to help themselves to the majority of the profit.”

Now they are winning with their latest venture reaching over 250% of their target.

FOOT IN THE DOOR

As mentioned before, there are many ways to go about launching a startup – Kickstarter (the current frontrunner) is just one of those options.

The dotcom bubble and the maker movement also produced a whole new range of ways to become an entrepreneur. Back in the early 2000’s the Maker Movement took hold in California, and many new DIY tools meant prototypes and designing new products could be made without a huge investment.

This movement spread globally, and with the rise in desire and opportunities – and the ever growing field of IoT, it created a whole new wave of entrepreneurs, and is a match made in heaven for startups. This article explains why it believes the ‘make-it-yourself movement is a new mecca for entrepreneurs‘.

Moving with the flow of trends and desires, it’s hard to ignore the growing want for IoT products, smart-homes and AI assisted devices. Combine this exploration, with the popularity of crowdfunded projects and the possibilities really are endless – providing a perfect way for budding entrepreneurs to get their foot in the door.

The realm of startups may be abundant, diverse and ever-growing, but with a strong business model and a willingness to take a gamble, you could succeed in the world of entrepreneurs and witness your business come to life.